Former Rangers manager Mark Warburton has given another insight into just how clueless he was during his time at Ibrox, as he recalled former Gers wonderkid Billy Gilmour making his first appearance for the Colts.

The midfielder made the step up to Graeme Murty’s second string – three years ago today – when he was only 15 but Warburton admitted that he was worried about playing him because of a “health-and-safety issue” given his slight stature.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - DECEMBER 24: Rangers manager Mark Warburton looks on during the Scottish Premier League match between Rangers and Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Ibrox Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Gilmour played – and strolled it against senior Dundee stars such as James McPake – leading Warburton to question if he had the slightest idea what he was actually doing.

“The staff wanted to play Billy Gilmour (now with Chelsea) in a match against what was a Dundee reserve side with several first-team players in it,” Warburton said, as quoted by the Daily Mail.


“I thought there was a health-and-safety issue because he was so small playing against these men. I could only see his size. But Billy played and he was the best on the park by a mile.

“So I learned that there were things you had to ask yourself. Do you understand what you are looking at? Do you understand what it makes to be a class player? Do you understand what it takes to improve a player?”

Having regularly attended Colts games at the time, there was absolutely no reason to fear Gilmour playing against men – and it is something which was (and remains) actively being championed by Academy chief Craig Mulholland and Graeme Murty.

The teen was consistently head and shoulders above vastly more experienced players and, had it not been for SPFL rules forbidding under-16s playing first-team football he would likely have had a chance in the side under Murty following Warburton’s resignation.

Chelsea's Scottish midfielder Billy Gilmour controls the ball during the English League Cup third round football match between Chelsea and Grimsby Town at Stamford Bridge in south west London, on September 25, 2019. (Photo by OLLY GREENWOOD / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / Rangers

(Photo by OLLY GREENWOOD/AFP/Getty Images)

That said, Warburton was conspicuous by his absence at under-20s games with Davie Weir or Jim Stewart attending on his behalf more often than not so it is easy to see how he missed Gilmour’s talent and only saw his size.

For all that Warburton talked a good game, there’s very much a sense that what he says and what he actually does are two very different things indeed.


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